Last weekend I taught a very busy and successful weekend workshop at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in beautiful Warren, Maine. It was a beginning class and we covered a lot of basic instruction.
We carved an apple in relief as a beginning carving project that focuses on working in the correct grain direction. I try to vary that first basic lesson just to keep it new. Then we carved that wonderful beginning project – the camellia! It covers so many things for a beginner, that I just keep it as my favorite basic carving project. We were having so much fun with the camellia that time was cut short a little to finish the classic shell carving. We made it through all the steps, but just needed a little more time to completely finish it.
Then Monday thru Thursday I had the great opportunity of filming an intermediate woodcarving video for Lie-Nielsen (the basic carving video filmed earlier should be out shortly). It took me a while to get used to the studio lights, cameras, and that self-conscious awkwardness of being in the spotlight, but I survived.
The video is going to show how to carve 2 different flowers – a lilly and a rose (basically an extreme camellia) in deep relief. I don’t know how long the final film will be, but probably over 3 hours of carving instruction.
Isn’t it odd that I spend much of my time carving in my own workshop with a video camera nearly always running? THAT doesn’t make me uncomfortable. But put me in a studio atmosphere with other people around, and my tongue gets tied up, my brain freezes, and I can’t remember my name. Having said that, once a chisel gets in my hand – in that environment – I’m home! All in all, it went really well and I finally got tired of being self conscious and got over it. I’m excited to see how it looks on screen.
Today and tomorrow I get to play. My lovely companion and husband, Stephen, flew to Maine to join me for a few days. I just can’t get over how beautiful this part of the country is. I’m trying to convince Stephen that we need to somehow find a way to spend the 3 summer months here so we don’t have to deal with Charleston heat and humidity.
We have nearly had our fill of lobster – and are sampling various “lobster rolls” where they claim to be the best lobster rolls in the state. The first time I saw a sign for lobster rolls, I thought it was some sort of chinese egg roll with lobster in it. Nope. It’s a lobster in a roll. Go figure. So far, Red’s Lobster rolls in Wiscasset has come out on top. Now I understand why there is always a long line at this little road-side stand.
On Sunday, we are heading out of a little airport in Rockland. It is a little 9-seater Sessna with Cape Air. I flew in that way, and it was just such a fun experience. You definitely get an close and personal flying experience
Elm is easy to plane, and then all of a sudden it tears out just as you do one too many swipes.
Elm is gorgeous. It is strong, resists splitting, and is a traditional wood for these kinds of chairs for these properties.
|One of the interesting parts of my seat blank.|
Jonas did some amazing things that I have never even heard of to get his settee blank ready. His bench is going to be absolutely stunning. Check out this video of him saddling his bench seat with a circular saw.
Enough artsy talk, have a gander at some pics:
|Jonas set this nice try plane up as a long scrub. It was perfect for this job. The elm behaved exceptional for this, that is except one of the more 'interesting' parts of elm had some nasty tear out that required some care in eliminating.|
|That high-angle blade really does the trick on any kind of grain.|
|We ripped some ash bending stock during one of our few side adventures today. Jonas really can work this mill efficiently.|
|My blank after smoothing. I guess these photos aren't really in order.|
|Bent. I guess his real name is Bernie, and begs for apples.|
|Saddling mostly complete. I cleaned up my less-than-skillful adze work with Moby Dick, and finished the shape with a scorp, a travisher, a couple of spokeshaves, and a few scrapers.|
This will be our first full winter in the Virginia Highlands, where it gets “upstate New York cold.” For the past few weeks the sound of chainsaws and log splitters has been a constant drone in the background of the valley atmosphere, as the locals are getting ready for intense global cooling. Me too. In addition to the firewood already stacked in the storage shed next to the cabin, other piles of split wood are growing around the homestead.
Last winter was perhaps the coldest in a century here, and the woolly worms, walnut trees, and Farmer’s Almanac are all projecting an even colder winter this time around.
Walnut trees? Yep, by mid August they were already turning yellow and the leaves are now falling in a constant wave. Hence, concerns for an even worse winter. That would be pretty brutal, as at least on three occasions last winter the dusk to dawn temperature here in the holler was 20 degrees below zero.
Given the cold-nature of my bride the need for firewood and lots of it is riding high at the moment. Yesterday was one of those times when I hunted and gathered firewood. In the morning I went to my friend Mike’s farm and he cut down two trees, one maple and one beech and helped me load my truck to the gills. I’ve never bottomed-out my 4WD s10 before, but it was yesterday.
When I finished splitting that (our altitude lets split wood dry really fast!) I went up the hill to work on a giant maple that fell last winter. So far it has yielded two truck loads and will probably get another two by the time it is all done. For scale, the log on the ground is 16″ by about 15 feet long, and the larger of the two trunks still on the root ball is about 24″. It’s stretching my 14″ Stihl chainsaw to the limit. It might be time to get another, larger one. But for now as long as I keep the chain sharp it is doing okay.
How much wood do we need to keep the home fires burning non-stop for five-plus months? We will find out, but the other night at Bible Study one of the fellows indicated that he had put up 19 cords of wood. I certainly hope he needs a lot more than we do. Otherwise I am only about 1/3 of the way there. Fortunately(?) I want to clear more space on the south side of the barn for more winter light, so a bunch of trees will be coming down next week.
Dismantling furniture gives meaning to the present and so we better understand out craft and piece together the missing pieces in the puzzle of what has gradually disappeared. I like finding chisel cuts and plane marks because they reflect a richly textured craft culture evidenced in honest workmanship. It’s something machines will never leave or if they do it will likely be in burn marks in saw kerfs and routed moulds and dadoes. I watch a machine cut the wall of a recess and it often leaves a perfect square wall straight as can be. It’s boring to watch and has no character really. Every cut comes out the same and when it’s done the machine user knows he didn’t do it. I don’t believe we will be undoing CNC router-cut work and feel too much at all. Why? There’s no character to it. It has only the dullness of machine passes and not the record of a man’s hand as in this table.
When I open up joints and dismantle pieces for repair or because I want the wood for something else, I can spend many hours recording and researching to learn from my mentors in previous centuries. When one thing touches another it leaves a trace of itself on the other and in woodworking it’s no different. One of my favourite aspects of my work is undoing the work of my predecessors in woodworking. I think last week I mentioned that John bought a four foot square mahogany table because I told him that the wood alone was worth many times more than the £35 they were asking. I was glad he did. John dismantled the physical parts yesterday. Today I dismantled the methods and examined the cuts and slices and traces left by the tools in the wood. The parts were as a message pad to me. Grain, cuts with sharp-edged tools, different signs told me how every cut was made and also about the tools used themselves. What I take for granted is not necessarily obvious to everyone and I realise that. I can tell the difference between a single bevel knife cut and a two bevel knife cut and the difference between a knife wall and a cutting gauge cut too. Spokeshave cuts and plane cuts and chisel cuts are all identifiable if you know what to look for and I can tell when pre cuts are made to facilitate additional chops with a mallet and chisel. In other words I know how craftsmen created things because of my own working as a master craftsman of 50 years. By this I unlock the past and understand from silent works the sharpness and dullness of their tools, the direction of cuts and the choices of techniques. Let me walk you through this just a little here.
The joinery on this table is simple to make and specifically designed with great care and insightful craftsman knowledge. Firstly the joinery is traditional. Twin mortise and tenon joints create the typical intersecting of legs and aprons to form the framework undergirding the tabletop and drop leaves. The twin coplanar tenons are at first glance perhaps less pristine than you might expect or even like or admire, but in essence you can’t help but respect the standards as you see the economic steps he took to make the joints interlock with tightness and to very specific measurements. For instance, the tenons and mortises were all 13/32” – a small amount over 3/8” and of course a non-metric 10mm +. The faces of the tenons were planed and the two cheeks dead parallel with a vernier. The surfaces look rough on the inside but that’s more the glue residue and not the inaccuracy of tool work.
Look at the rough chisel work between the two tenons. This was of course pre-coping saw days but not pre bow saw. In this case the two tenon widths were cut down with a tenon saw and then a 1” firmer chisel is used to chop from each side by first placing the tenon cheek on an elevated block and chopping. First removing the waste with a rough cut say 1/8” from the line reduces resistance when the final cuts are made and hence the cut through is made with a single blow from nosed and then a second meeting cut from the other. No clean up took place.
Now let’s look at the width of the tenons. On all of the tenon widths there is compression bruising that shows that the tenons were deliberately cut over width by a surprising amount. In this case the depressed internal surfaces are 1/16” compressed. That seems a lot to me, but then I noticed the compression was deeper on the two softwood aprons and a lot less on the hardwood mahogany ones where compression is less. So, this tells me that the craftsmen made conscious assent to factors inherent to the different wood species and judged the work accordingly. What was he considering? He judged compressibility, spring, strength, fracture capacity, denseness, hardness and perhaps things I might not yet know of.
Notice too that on the entry point along the edges of the tenon he created lead in along the edge to ensure the corners don’t snag on the mortise internal walls. It’s something I have always done because I too was trained to do the same.
The shoulders of the tenons are undercut for ease and speed and to ensure that the outer rim of the shoulder closes up to the leg without any hindrance. I prefer not to do this as a practice, but sometimes it happens through injudicious cutting. Shoulder-lines for the tenons were knifewall cuts and not cleaned up with a shoulder plane at all. The faces of tenons were all planed level and smooth with no evidence of chisel work. Does that mean they were all sawn or just planed? Not at all. It means both chisel and saw cuts were refined with a rebate plane at least 1 1/4” wide and probably wider.
Looking at the mortised legs I was pleasantly surprised by the composition of mortises in relation to the leg. The mortises were not equally placed as would be more normal. The mortises on the short apron are set 5/16” from the outside face and then the long apron is set 7/16” from the inside face.This positioning allowed a full length tenon to both aprons but offsetting the long apron allowed for the knuckle-hinged folding support for the drop leaves to fold out of the way when the flaps were placed down and stowed.
All of the cuts were pristine for the main part. I mean very sharp cuts from hard steel. Both chopped and pared cuts with and across the grain were were clean cutting and so well cut all pores were fully open. This should not surprise anyone. We have made no advances in sharpness in the past two centuries that I know of.
I ran across this Benchtop Shaving Horse the other day in an old Living Woods magazine. It was designed by Nick Gibbs for the Forest Education Initiative in the U.K., based on an idea for standing horses shown in an earlier Living Woods by James Mursell and Bob Slade. What makes this interesting is that it’s great if you don’t have […]
Business first = I spent part of a recent evening blabbing about me & woodworking to Cory Mickelson http://craftsmansroad.com/ . I understand why it’s a “-cast” but I don’t know what the “pod” part is… I couldn’t get to it from the website; and used Itunes to hear it. Once it started, I shut it off. I can’t listen to me. Cory was very nice – some of you might want to hear it. for some reason.
But finally – birds. Daniel & I have been making some early morning trips to try to get shots of the glossy ibis and Little Blue Heron that our friend Marie told us about over in Marshfield. Today we had great views of 2 of the ibises; the Little Blue Heron – which you will note is white – was not too far, but still far enough that we couldn’t get good photos. The young LB Herons aren’t yet blue/purple like the adults.
To really see these birds; let’s swipe photos from Marie – hers are great…she had a Great Blue Heron one day she was there – Daniel & I saw him there one morning, but not today. then the ibis & the Little Blue Heron.
This post has nothing to do with woodworking – so stop reading now if you’re just going to complain about that. I imagine with the long Labor Day weekend in the U.S., many of us are heading off to end-of-summer picnics. And if you’re looking for dishes to take along, click on the link that follows, then click on the individual recipe cards. This site is – hands down – […]
Bridge Citizens Far and Wide:
If you haven’t read the first two installments of this totally awesome experience – shared on this totally awesome and worthless blog – then shame on you. Here are more pics with as few captions as possible. OH, and in case you are wondering, there are six total installments….
Basket making is the world’s oldest craft/art… the work is tedious and it really is not hand friendly over decades. One maker from Denmark commented that she has to have injections in her hands… every six months to do what she loves…
Michael Hosaluk is a friend of mine (we met teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking years ago) and he is the recipient of the Canadian version of the MacArthur Award. He also is the owner of a CT-18 and took delivery at Emma (this is not Michael in the image). It quickly found its way into the field for various projects and here it is helping to shape the underside of a bench project…
The toothing iron was used to rapidly remove material (depth of cut was about 0.025″).
There was a small mountain of shavings that were continually picked up by others for who knows what purpose…
This is a great way to recycle shavings as this material makes a superb and great smelling packaging material.
This is an accidental pic I took while looking at the back of my camera. Really!
Sometime in the late 1970′s I participated in a wood invitational in Mendocino, CA and one of the other artists was Michael Cooper. After all these years we finally got to meet at Emma 2014 and nobody was more excited about this than your favorite Tool Potentate. His work has always been inspiring to me, so please take a look at his site when you have an hour or two to digest the genius of this man. Here he is inspecting his bent lamination… that or he just spotted an electrical outlet which were highly coveted in the wood area.
This lamination was clamped using cotton rope wound round and round… you can see the marks after the rope is removed…
I’ve reached a state of equilibrium with the design for my semi-reproduction of this Greene & Greene serving table from the Blacker house. Which almost guarantees that I’ll think of three changes I want to make before I finish writing the blog post…
There were some missing details that I needed to fill in, including joinery and embellishments. I think I have those done now, but I’d appreciate feedback on goth the aesthetics and the functionals. In terms of the latter, I settled on twin 2″ wide tenons on the skirts with a wide stub tenon across the end of the skirt to prevent cupping. The longer tenons will hold the base together, the stub tenon probably don’t be glued but is there just to prevent cupping on the wide skirts. The tenons are offset between the sides so that the deep mortises don’t intersect. I can think of other ways to do this joint, so I’m curious if anyone sees a problem.
I added in the joinery details on the table top as well. A wide stub tenon and four 2 1/2″ wide longer tenons. I’ll screw through the breadboard end caps into the end of the long tenons. I added rectangular Ebony caps to indicate these locations on the breadboard ends, although I might want them a tiny bit longer. Also new in this “final” version are the Ebony applies that join the top and breadboard end.
I had mentioned that the transition in the cloud lifts was more gradual in mine than in the original. I tweaked it in my design to make it a bit more abrupt like the original, and I like it better. This is a detail I might play with a little in the future. I didn’t update the inlay design in the top, but I probably will eventually — ok there are the three changes I predicted that I’d find in talking about my final design.
I added in the inlay design on the legs — I’m pretty happy with this part. I think it adds a lot to the style of the table. I feel like I got the “rhythm” of the design right, although it’s not identical to the original
Overall I think I’ve captured the scale and feel of the original design, although it’s different in some of the details. The inlay is a little bit of a concern, but I think if I do a practice piece or two I can probably figure it out. I took today off work, so I’ll be starting the finish on the Thorsen cabinet. Maybe during drying time I’ll run down to Watsonville and pico up a couple of wide boards of Sapele for the skirts and top of this table…
|At the DIY Square, Bangalore (Bengaluru)|
Bosch Power Tools in India, on the other hand, is thinking a little differently. It wants to grow a market that is practically non-existent - and in the process create a DIY (Do It Yourself) community in this country.
Sounds like an impossible mission; creating a hands-on culture in conservative India with its rigid social hierarchies and set ideas on lifestyle, living and behaviour.
But Bosch has a plan and has put money in it.
For starters, Bosch has set up a DIY Square in one of their dealer's premises in downtown Bangalore (Banerghatta Road) where anyone interested is encouraged to try out the many Bosch DIY tools free of cost and without any pressure to buy. Bosch even pays for the material and spares that are used by visitors.
|Vijay Pandey, Bosch Power Tools VP|
Mamata Upadhyay, a Delhi based journalist visiting the DIY Square, who tried her hand at making a wooden clock was so taken up with the process of handling power tools such as a jigsaw and sander that she could barely tear herself away.
"I realise I just love doing things with my hands", she remarked, "It just makes me feel I am doing something substantial, something real." After learning that she can use hand tools, Mamata is seriously thinking of a career change!
The idea of creating something appeals to hundreds of visitors to the Bosch Square.
"It may not appeal to everybody but a lot of people are realising that it is cool to be creative", says Pandey, who is planning to open more such DIY centres in other metros in the country.
|Trying out a Tool at a Bosch DIY Event|
The president and country head of the Bosch group in India, Dr Steffen Berns, says that the DIY Square idea is unique to India and has not been tried anywhere else. He points out that there is no need to incubate a DIY culture in the West where it already exists. The Indian experiment could however be replicated in other countries that lack traditional DIY cultures, he adds.
Abroad, especially in the West, some amount of DIY ability is mandatory given the high cost of service people such as carpenters, plumbers and so on. This is not the case in India and this is one reason why Pandey says that he is not trying to replace the poor carpenter or some other workman.
Pandey's target audience is the rising Indian middle class, a huge potential market for Bosch power tools. By stressing and spreading the message of DIY, Bosch hopes to pull in a chunk of Indians into the DIY habit.
|A Bosch DIY STall: Creating the Bosch Association|
That explains why Bosch does not baulk at spending money on promoting DIY, setting up free facilities like the DIY Square and organising DIY events in various parts of the country.
This is long term vision at its best. In the years to come, as DIY becomes part of the Indian lexicon, there is one brand that will always be associated with it: Bosch.
The visit to the Bosch DIY Square in Bangalore was sponsored by Bosch.
29 August 2014
Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
Ok there I said it before some of you get a chance. Yes I have a power planer in my shop and this video will give you a good idea why and how well it works with my hand planes. Typically if a board is in the 5″ range in width, I will just use my hand planes to mill it flat and square. And with stock that is 4/4 or under I will do most of the work with a hand plane. But when the boards get wide and long I’m glad to have a planer around. This video shows why I don’t think a power jointer is necessary and just how quickly you can prepare a board for the planer.
Plus we get to see the new 20″ Grizzly in action on some unruly #2 Common Walnut.
Never really used this blog to sell anything before, but my tool fund is low and with me not able to work for a while now, I think it's best to sell off some of the tools that I just don't use to get money for some tools that I "need". So, with that being said, I'm going to be bringing 4 Andrew Lunn saws and one Ron Bontz saw with me to WIA this year to sell if anyone is interested. The Bontz saw was bought by me brand new and has made less than half a dozen cross-cuts. It's a half back filed in a hybrid tooth pattern. The Eccentric saws I bought only 3 or 4 months ago because I always wanted some and could never find them, so when I saw these, I jumped on them. Anyone who has been in the hand tool loop for at least 4 or 5 years probably knows of Andrews saws and how they were the finest around when he was still making saws. To my knowledge, he hasn't made saws in 3 or 4 years. I bought these off a woodworking forum site with no intention of re-selling them, but finances now dictate that I do. I have never made the first cut with any of the four. Not sure how much use they got before me, but they are all very sharp. For some reason, every one of them has some staining on the left side of the saw plate as the pictures show. The right side on each one is clean. Weird. Anyway, other than this they are pretty flawless with nice etching on all the brass backs. Not sure what to ask for these yet but obviously, I'd like to add as much as possible to the tool fund. Anyway, just giving a heads up to anyone who may be at WIA and would like the chance to own one or four of these hard to find saws of Andrews. And I don't mean to slight Ron's half-back in any way. It's a fine looking saw in it's own right. Ok, here's some pictures.
|The Collection. They sure do look purty hanging in the shop.|
|The Bontz Tools half-back, 18" saw plate.|
|Bontz Tools half-back|
|Dated 2008 on the saw plate.|
|Eccentric Tenon Saw. 15" saw plate. 4 1/16" under brass at handle, 3 13/16|
under brass at toe.
|Eccentric Rip Carcass Saw|
|Eccentric Rip Carcass Saw. 11 1/2" saw plate. 2" under brass at handle,|
1 13/16" under brass at toe.
|Eccentric Cross Cut Carcass Saw|
|Eccentric Saw Cross Cut Carcass Saw. 11 1/2" saw Plate.|
1 3/4" under brass at handle, 1 9/16" under brass at toe.
|Eccentric Dovetail Saw|
|Eccentric Saw Dovetail Saw. 9 1/4" saw plate. 1 5/16" under brass at handle,|
1 1/8" under brass at toe.
One of woodworking’s enduring running jokes is about how Ikea furniture is made from termite barf. As it turns out, 75% of the furniture in Ikea catalogs isn’t even real. Kirsty Parkin:
Every year, CGSociety goes to SIGGRAPH, one of the premier conferences on innovation for the computer graphics and VFX industries in the world. In 2012, we watched as Martin Enthed, the IT Manager for the in-house communication agency of IKEA, gave a short presentation. He told us how their visualisation team had evolved from the use of traditional photography for the IKEA catalogue to a system today, where the bulk of its imagery is CG. I remember leaving the auditorium (which was packed) thinking, “Those natural-looking photographs in the IKEA catalogues are amazing. I can’t believe they’re mostly CG. It’s incredible.”
I guess the new joke will have to be how Ikea furniture is made from electrons. Which is sad, because “electrons” is not nearly as funny as “termite barf”.
Veteran woodworker Jeff Branch has reviewed our new DVD, “The Naked Woodworker” with Mike Siemsen. Jeff has 30 years of woodworking experience but is just entering the world of handwork – so he’s not a babe in the woods.
Be sure to check out the review so you know what to do when your spouse walks in on you watching “The Naked Woodworker.” All I can say is that it’s a good thing we used an Americana soundtrack for the DVD and not smooth wife-swapping jazz.
If you don’t have time to read the review, here’s the conclusion in a nutshell: “A friend once asked me about woodworking: ‘How do I get started; what do I do first?’ I am going to tell him to buy this video.”
“The Naked Woodworker” is available in a two-DVD set or for immediate download in our store.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: The Naked Woodworker DVD
I think that sometimes I have been grateful for machines and I realise their real value when woods have difficult grain. I remember one time passing a most beautiful treasure of mesquite burl into my planer for a second pass of 1/64th. Not a heavy cut at all. The first pass had worked fine and I was passing it through oriented the same way as previously. The piece entered fine and then suddenly exploded every bit of it somewhere into the cutterhead. Nothing came out the other side and 16″ by 5” wide of 1/2” mesquite burl that should have made a perfectly book matched lid was obliterated. That’s not so rare an occurrence as it might seem and that’s why many users of thinner stock use planes and scrapers rather then machine planers to thickness their stock down to final sizing. I know that many guitar makers use thickness sanders to gain the thickness to exactness but I also know that Marty Macica resolves his work as I do using hand methods and no sanding. This is because he feels the sanding dust fills the grain pores with dust that deadens sound. Marty is teaching a new guitar-making workshop later this year in New York and you can see him do that here.
Resuming from my blog a couple of days ago here. My mesquite pile had now ceased to lose weight. In summertime Hill Country Texas that means it’s as dry as you will get it and that’s when I like to start putting my final thoughts on paper. The most economical way to use rarer woods is to create veneers from them. Our modern take on that is of course that veneers are somehow cheating us out of the real thing and to some degree that’s quite true. IKEA and others use thin veneers to mask what’s underneath and they might tell us it’s to save the rain forests, which of course is untrue. Most modern goods with surface veneers are usually super thin. So thin in fact you can see through them to the light sub-woods underneath. What mass makers want is something that feels and looks like real wood for its warmth and appearance and at the same time controllability to pass it through machines for tight tolerances. Adding stain to equalize colour and tone gives them and us the illusion of real and we unwittingly buy into a built-in obsolescence product. This is less true of hand crafting artisans who want the control MDF offers, but creative ways of using veneers. Box makers often use this and I recall the most prodigious UK furniture makers SilverLining making doors for the Russian Embassy in London using MDF for some massive doors that were veneered with some very special veneering to the faces. Many top-notch makers use MDF. I chose ot to do this and find ways of veneering with solid wood as a substrate. It can be done but it takes careful consideration every time.
The piece I designed had many features I chose from my early signature details. The rails separating the drawers comprised hidden aspects to the internal joinery but through tenons cross-wedged on the outside. I have always liked this feature because it visibly shows the contained tenon within the mortise and the compression within that creates a lock to the dovetailed tenon.
Inside the tenoned area I created a housing 3/32” deep. I wanted to support the rear of the rail. In the scheme of things all joinery necessitates one part to to be reduced in some measure to fit into another. I considered two types of mortise and tenon joints and chose one for different reasons. Here are the two options I thought to consider. The one on the left is a single through tenon. The one to the right is a twin tenon. I rejected this for this particular piece but used it in other work later. I felt that the joint with twin mortices took too much wood way. It made the joint area weaker, but I decided this based on my knowledge of mesquite and knowing it’s brittle nature. using a single tenon meant I could move the tenon further from the front edge of the side panel and increase the strength that way.
The cross wedging needs much care too because the wood either side of the wedge needs to retain continuity along the length of the rail. The wedges are not too long and must not be driven into the rail beyond the depth of the saw kerf. I start my wedge the same width as the kerf, that way the the wedge immediately parts the narrow section of the wedge to press it into the widened aspect of the mortise. I forgot to tell you that the outer aspect of the mortise to the top and bottom are widened with a sharp chisel. You can see this in the drawing. It’s always important to consider joinery in terms of its reductive parts. Widening a tenon means less wood surrounding the mortise. Reduce the size of the tenon too much and you have a weaker tendon. Reduce it too much and you destroy the efficacy of the tenon in favour of the mortise. Joinery is about finding balance and seeking harmony between two married parts. Each relies on the other, which is why when I was young the men always referred to “marrying” the various parts. It’s a reductive process you see, but one part cannot be reduced so much as to be weaker at the cost of the other.
“Apprenticeship is a very important part of ones life: habits at this time formed generally sticks close to one through life: it is the time to prepair ones self for respectability, usefulness, and happiness through life."
- Matthew Ray, 19th century blacksmith in Blue Hill, ME
I knew it was eventually going to happen, the temptation is far too great to avoid.
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about turning to the darkside and taking up knitting (although I wouldn’t mind making my own matching wool scarf and woobie set for winter, especially if it’s as cold as last year.)
Instead, I’m talking about another blackhole of woodworking that I’ve been very vocal about avoiding for years…WOODTURNING!
Sure I’ve had the lathe for awhile now, and yes I’ve dabbled a little bit with it here and there. But I’ve never taken the plunge and unleashed the full power of the turning tools.
Recently I moved the lathe up and out of the basement workshop and into the garage where I could enjoy the warm summer evenings and not feel like I had to stop every five to ten minutes to vacuum up the accumulating chips and sawdust.
On today’s episode you get to witness the fruits of my dabbling. The result of what happens when a woodworker decides to make more than a dowel and attempts to learn what each woodturning tool does (preferably without hurting himself in the process.)
You’ll see plenty of mistakes in this video and probably laugh at my fumbling with the tools (especially when I attempt to identify which gouge I’m using) but hopefully more than anything else, you’ll enjoy seeing the first of what I imagine to be numerous woodturning projects to come.